Charlie, Bailey & Jules,
Please don't be mad at me, but I found this was the only way to ever get your attention. I am leaving... I have tried many times before it's just I never could.
I am sorry..
Claudia read the note to herself once again. She then folded it up and left it on her desk. She picked up her books and headed downstairs, where she ran into her older siblings.
"Heya Claude." Bailey said.
"Uh..Bailey, I wasn't expecting to see you here, I thought you were taking care of Annie." Claudia said.
"Well, I wanted to see what was going on at home and stuff, you know, since I haven't been here for a while. Besides, Annie can.." Bailey was then interupted by Claudia.
" Well, I have to go to school now. You know gotta catch the bus...don't want to be late." Claudia said quickly.
"Oh wait, Claude, before I forget don't forget to wait outside by the school. Remember we have an appointment with Dr. Shultz this afternoon." Charlie said.
Claudia ran out the door.
"Thank god I am outta this house." Claudia said to herself.
"I am really going to go through with it this time."
Finally it was noon, and it was lunchtime. Reed caught up with her.
"Claudia, Claudia!" He yelled from the end of the hallway.
She turned around in surprise. After what she had done to Reed why would he want to talk to her?
" Oh, hi Reed." She said with a smile on her face.
"Where have you been lately? I haven't seen you around school..You like dissapeared or something."
"Well, yeah you know..Charlie was in the hospital and all..." She said.
"Oh man, really? I am sorry Claude." Reed said.
"Really it's okay. I gotta get going." Claudia said.
"Okay. See ya round."
Claudia made it through the rest of the day.
When the final bell rang, she quickly ran out of the school and headed toward the bus station.
She bought a ticket to Seattle.
"Finally." She muttered to herself. She gave the bus driver her ticket and found a seat on the bus.
Charlie is wandering around the school. Frantically looking for Claudia...He calls out her name and gets no answer. "Great, maybe she forgot." He said to himself.
Then he rushed into the school office hoping they'd know something.
"Excuse me.." Charlie said.
"Yes, can I help you?" The secreatry said.
"Hi..om, I am looking for my sister. Her name is Claudia, Claudia Salinger. Have you seen her around anywhere?" He asked.
"No, I haven't." The secretary said.
"Don't you know where your students are! I mean this is a school!" He yelled impatiently.
"Excuse me Mr. Salinger. Is there something I can help you with?" Mrs. Huffman said as she walked into the main office.
"Yeah, have seen Claudia?" He asked.
"No, she was in school all day. I assumed she went home."
"No, no! She wasn't supposed to come home she was supposed to meet me here..We had an appointment with Dr. Shultz." Charlie said.
"Maybe you should check at home." Mrs. Huffman advised.
"Yeah. If you see her, have her come right home." Charlie said angrily.
"I will." Mrs.Huffman said.
Charlie left the school. Worried.
(Claudia is now on the bus almost out of California.)
The bus was getting crowded. She was so scared. There was no one to talk too and everyone looked so strange.
She then closed her eyes and fell asleep hoping she would arrive in Seattle soon.
Charlie is calling Bailey at his apartment when Sarah answers.
"Sarah, This is Charlie. Have you seen Bai?" He asked.
"Yeah, he's right here." Sarah handed the phone to Bailey.
"Bai, come over to the house.Now. Claudia's missing, and I need you to come home." Charlie said frantically.
"What do you mean Claudia's missing?" He said.
"Bai, just come home." He demanded.
"Okay Sarah can drive me by." Bailey said and hung up the phone.
"Charwee." Owen asked.
"Can you read me a story. Pwease. Charwie. Pwease." Owen said.
"Owen, it's late. Lets get you to bed." Charlie took Owen upstairs and put him to bed.
About fifteen minutes later Bailey came over.
"Char! I'm here." Bailey said.
Charlie said goodnight to Owen and went downstairs to the kitchen.
"Oh man, Bai, it's good to see you." Charlie said.
"Yeah, what about Claudia where is she?"
"I don't know. She hasn't been home all day, and Mrs.Huffman said she went home. She wasn't at Dr. Shultz either." Charlie said
. "Well, what about Julia did you ask her. Maybe she took Claudia shopping or something." Bailey said.
"No, I haven't see Jules, I really need her to come home. I guess she's at work at the college. I hope she's seen her." Charlie said.
Another hour passed, and Julia finally walked in the door.
Bailey and Charlie woke up from falling asleep on the couch.
"Claudia!" They both yelled at the same time.
Julia turned on the lights.
"Hey..Bai what are you doing here?" Julia asked.
" Julia..Claudia's missing. She hasn't been home all night." Bailey said.
"What, Claudia's not home? " She sounded confused.
"Have you called any of her friends. Reed, om..well did you call him?" Julia asked.
"No, I didn't think of that. It's too late now, I guess we could in the morning. We'll just have to wait." Charlie said.
"Wow, where do you think she is?" Julia asked.
"It's San Francisco. There are thousands of places she could be." Bailey said.
"If she comes home tomorrow and she's okay, I am going to flip." Charlie said.
"Lets not worry about that right now." Bailey advised.
They all went silent....
(The next morning on the bus)
Claudia woke up and realized that someone was sitting next to her. The bus must have made some stops through out the night.
The women sitting next to her woke up too.
She was older and had a lot of wrinkles. She looked like she was in her older 70's.
She started talking to Claudia.
"Hi I'm Mariellen." The older women said.
"Hi, I'm Claudia." "Hi Claudia nice to meet you. What is someone your age doing on a bus to Seattle?" Mariellen asked.
"Me, Well, I am going to see my friend, Jody." Claudia said.
"Really. Wow. Aren;t you supposed to be in school this time of year?" Mariellen asked.
"Yeah, but, my mom said it was okay." Claudia said.
For some reason Mariellen didn't believe Claudia.
"Your running away aren't you?"
"Me, running away. Why would I do that?" Claudia asked.
"Cause I was like you once. I ran away from my family. I was so tired of them, not listening to me, not paying attention to me. So, one day I just left." Mariellen said.
"Well, I am not exactly running away." Claudia pointed out.
"Do they know that you are gone." Mariellen asked
"No." Claudia answered.
"Listen, Claudia. I know I am older,but the wise thing to do would be to go back home.
Your family needs you. They are probably worrying to death about you. Is that what you want?" Mariellen asked.
"No, but-" "Claudia, the best thing is to go back home." Mariellen said.
The bus suddenly came to a stop.
"Well here's my stop. Portland Oregon." Mariellen said.
"Well, nice talking to you." Claudia said.
"Goodbye, I hope you make the right choice." Mariellen left off the bus.
Claudia was happy to see her go. She didn't want someone lecturing her. Especially when she didn't even know them. She gets enough of that at home.
Claudia drifted off to sleep again.
In a few hours she would arrive in Seattle..To see Jody.
(Back at home where it is 1o'clock.)
Charlie is ranting and raving in the kitchen. None of them has seen or heard from Claudia and they are very worried.
"Charlie..Have you heard anything?" Julia asked as she came downstairs.
"No.Nothing. Man, Jule, what if she was..what if?" Charlie couldn't even finish.
"No, Charlie don't think like that. We'll find her. We will." Julia said positively.
"Should we call the police Charlie? Maybe they could help?" Bailey advised.
"No, we can't call them yet. If they know Claudia is missing then Social Services will come back." Charlie said
"Yeah, your right." Bailey said.
"But, if we don't find her by tomorrow, Charlie we have to." Julia said.
"I know Jule." Charlie said.
(On the bus)
"We will be reaching Seattle in about ten minutes. Please gather all your belongings."
The bus driver said over the intercom.
"Finally." Claudia said.
The bus pulled up to the bus station at it's final destination.
Claudia grabbed her bags and went into the bus station.
She was happy to be off the bus. She finally got to stretch. She hadn't been off the bus in two days!
She immediately went to the phone book. She looked for Jody's last name.
That was going to be hard cause her last name was Hunt.
She moved in with her father.
John Hunt..That might help a little.
She went to Hunt. And came in with two pages full!
She went to John Hunt.
There were four of them. She called each house one by one.
(The phone is ringing)
"Hello..Joyce Hunt..Can I help you?" The lady with a british accent asked.
"Wrong number."She said and hung up.
She called another number....
"Hello this is Jody." The voice said.
"Jody!" Claudia yelled. "Hello, can I help you? Do you need something?" Jody asked angrily.
"Jody, it's me..Don't you remember me. It's Claudia!" She said.
"Claudia. Claudia Salinger? Oh my god! How are you fiddle girl?" Jody asked.
Jody always called her fiddle girl cause she played the violin.
"I'm okay." Claudia said.
"Where are you? Are you in San Francisco?" Jody asked.
"No, I am here in Seattle." Claudia said.
"You are? What are you doing here? " Jody asked.
"Gee thanks Jody. I came here to see you." Claudia said.
"Well, you could've told me sooner." Jody said.
"Yeah, I know. But Charlie dosen't know that I'm up here." Claudia said.
"You mean you. No. You. Claudia, Miss Perfect. Straight A Claudia ran away?" Jody asked.
"Yeah." Claudia said. It was really good to hear the voice of her friend again.
"Well, you wanna stay at my house?" Jody said.
"Yeah. Can I like get your address, so I can get a cab over there."
"Yeah..Here..2256 Maple Street." Jody said.
"Thanks. I can be there soon." Claudia said and hung up the phone. She wanted to hurry and see Jody.
She got a cab and headed for 2256 Maple Street.
(At home. It's now 7pm. Charlie, Bailey and Julia are all in the living room.)
"Man, something must have happened." Charlie said.
"Char, don't jump to any conclusions yet." Julia said.
"Jule, listen to yourself! Something is wrong. She should've been here by now. It's been 36 hours! I am calling the police." Charlie went into the kitchen to get the phone.
Just then Owen wandered into the living room.
"Baiwey...What's this?" Owen handed Bailey a white piece of paper.
Bailey took the paper from Owen, and read it..
"Oh my god!" Bailey said.
"What Bai, what is it?" Julia asked concerningly.
Bailey handed her the paper.
"Oh my god, she..Claudia ran away. I can't believe her!" Julia said. She was now mad.
"Charlie. Charlie get in here!" Julia yelled.
Charlie came into the living room.
"Charlie read this." Julia handed him the paper.
Charlie read it and his face turned bright red with anger.
"Where the hell is she?" Charlie crumpled up the paper and through it on the floor.
Bailey and Julia just stared at him.
"Charwee! Time out! You said the "H" word." Owen said.
(Claudia is now arriving at Jody's house)
She payed the taxi driver and ran up to Jody's door.
She knocked on the door.
Jody quickly answered it.
"Claudia!" She yelled and ran out to give Claudia a hug.
"Heya Jody." Claudia said with a smile on her face.
"Wow, you look. well really diffrent." Jody said.
"Yeah, I cut my hair." Claudia told her.
"I like!" Jody smiled.
"Really?" Claudia asked. She was happy that Jody liked it.
She entered Jody's house. It was a lot bigger than her house in San Francisco.
"Make yourself at home." Jody said.
"Thanks. Om..Jode, did you tell you dad that I was coming?"
"Are you kidding he never is home anyway."
"So, I gotta ask you. Why did you run away?" Jody asked.
"Well, no one even wants me around anyway." Claudia said.
"Again?" Jody asked.
"Yeah, except this time. Well Jody, Charlie has Cancer." Claudia said.
"Oh my god, how is he doing?"
"I don't know. He wouldn't talk to me. I couldn't take it so I left."
"Just like that wow. Do you want anything to eat?" Jody asked her.
"Yeah, I am starving."
Jody got out some chips for Claudia to munch on.
"Thanks for letting me come here." Claudia said.
Jody just stared at Claudia. She knew she had to get home. She didn't want her family worrying for her. They had probably called the police by now.
(At home in San Francisco)
"Do you have any idea where she might be?" Charlie asked.
"Do you think she went to go look for Grandpa Jake?" Bailey asked.
"After he just left suddenly. I doubt it." Charlie said.
"Well, what about Jody? I mean they were best friends." Julia said.
(In Seattle. Claudia is sleeping in the guest bedroom. Her and Jody are talking)
"I can't thank you enough for letting me stay here Jody." Claudia said as she hoped in to bed.
"Hey what are friends for." Jody said.
"Are you going to tell your dad that I am here." Claudia asked.
"Yeah, I will let him know when he comes home. Just get some sleep now." Jody said. She turned off the lights and left the room.
She stood outside of the hallway. "I have to call Charlie." She said.
About ten minutes later Jody's father, John, came home.
"Hey sweetie!" John went to hug his daughter.
"Hi dad. Om, I need to tell you something." Jody said.
"Well, do you remember my friend Claudia?" Jody asked him.
"Yeah, Claudia Salinger?" John asked.
"Well she's here." Jody said.
"What. How did she get here all the way from California?" John asked.
"Dad she ran away. Cause no one was paying attention to her. And her brother, Charlie, has cancer."
"Oh my god...Well, Jody you know what you have to do don't you?" John asked.
"Yes, I have to call Charlie."
"Ya, I will talk to him, he must be worried to death. Do you have her number?"
"Yeah. She gave it to me before I left and moved up here."
"You should call now. I know it's late,but it's important." John said.
Jody nodded her head and picked up the phone and dialed the number to the Salinger house
(At home it's now 11pm. Charlie and Bailey nodded off, Julia was still awake.)
She heard the phone ring and she picked it up.
"Hello." Julia said.
"Hi, this is Jody." Jody said.
"Jody, oh my god. Have you seen Claudia?" Jody asked.
"Yes, she's here at my house."
"Thank god!" Julia said with a sigh of relief.
"Charlie, Charlie. Wake up! It's Jody, Claudia's at her house." Julia said.
Charlie grabbed the phone from Julia. Bailey then woke up too.
"Hello, Jody, oh my god is she okay?" Charlie asked.
"Yeah, she's fine. She doesn't know that I am calling." Jody said.
"Thanks so much for calling. Can one of us come up tomorrow?" Charlie asked.
John took the phone from Jody and talked to Charlie.
"Hi. Charlie, this is Jody's father."
"Hi." Charlie said. He felt more comfortable talking to Jody.
"I really would like to come up to get Claudia. Possibly by tomorrow." Charlie said.
"Yes, that's fine. Listen don't tell Claudia that I'm coming. I don't want her to know. She might try to run away again." Charlie said.
"I won't." John said.
" I can get a flight leaving tomorrow on the shuttle at 12." Charlie said.
"Okay, my address is 2256 Maple Street. If you take a cab, they'll be able to find it." John said.
"Thanks so much." Charlie said and hung up the phone.
"Oh, it's so good to know where she is." Charlie said.
"I know. What are we going to do with her though?" Bailey asked.
"I dunno Bai." Charlie said.
"Well yelling isn't going to help she's just gonna want to run away again." Julia said.
"Yeah you're right." Charlie said.
"Charlie will the doctor let you go. She might want you to stay home and rest. You just got out of the hospital." Bailey said.
"Your probably right." Charlie said.
"I can't go up, I have to look after the restaurant." Bailey said.
They both glanced at Julia.
"Sure." Julia said. "I'll just call my professor and tell him I won't be there tomorrow." Julia said.
"Thanks Jules." Charlie said.
With that they all went to bed.
(At Jody's house it's now 10am.)
Claudia wandered into the kitchen to find Jody and her father making breakfast.
"Hey, Claude," Jody said.
"Hi." Jody smiled. "Nice to meet you Claudia. I'm John."
"Hi, Mr. Hunt." Claudia said.
Jody gave Claudia some cereal.
"So, I hear that you came up here from San Francisco." John asked.
"Yeah." Claudia gave and odd eye look to Jody.
They talked for a while longer and then Claudia went upstairs to get dressed.
Fifteen minutes later Jody knocked on Claudia's door.
"Come in." Claudia said.
"Hey Claude." Jody sat down on the bed.
"Look, I know you don't want to go home, but you're eventually gonna have too." Jody said.
"I know. I don't want to go home now. I don't want Charlie to tell me that I'm grounded for the rest of my life," Claudia said.
"He probably wouldn't say that," Jody said.
"What are you talking about Jody. Jody did you call him?" Claudia demanded.
"Don't be mad!" Jody said.
"Why. Of all people!" Claudia yelled. She was really mad now.
"Claude, you'll find out later it was the best," Jody said.
"No, how could you Jody, you are my friend. How could you!" Claudia just cried and left the room and took her bags with her.
"Claudia, where are you going?" Jody asked.
"Somewhere before Charlie gets here," Claudia answered.
"You know I thought I made a big change. I think it was you. You're so diffrent Jody, you're not the same anymore. Your not a rebel anymore. You're just diffrent," Claudia added.
Just then the doorbell rang.
"You didn't say he was coming that fast!" Claudia said.
They went into the living room. Claudia didn't want to see Charlie, she knew he'd start yelling at her in front of them. She didn't want to go home either. She was afraid of what was going to happen there.
Mr. Hunt opened the door. Julia was there. Claudia was shocked to see Julia.
"I take it you must not be Charlie," John said.
"No, I'm Julia, Claudia's sister," Julia told him.
"Come in," John said.
Julia came into the house. She saw Claudia there.
"Julia, what are you--"
"Oh god, Claudia we were so worried about you!" Julia came to give a hug to Claudia.
Claudia did have to admit she was happy to see her. She figured she'd be softer on Claudia and plus she REALLY missed her family.
John, Jody, Julia, and Claudia talked for a while. Discussing what had happened.
Julia said that when they got home they would talk about it again with Charlie.
Something clearly Claudia didn't want to do.
"Thanks for taking good care of my sister the last two days, Mr. Hunt" Julia said.
"No problem, and Claudia you can come whenever you want, just call next time." John said. Claudia thanked John and said goodbye to Jody.
Then Julia and Claudia went away in the cab to the airport.
(at home in the kitchen with Charlie, Bailey and Owen)
"Charwee, where's Claudie?" Owen asked.
"She's just been away for a while she'll be home soon," Charlie promised.
"Come on Owen, lets go read you a story," Bailey said.
Charlie was happy that his sister was finally coming home.
(On the airplane)
Claudia and Julia weren't talking. Until Julia asked her a question.
"Claude, why..?" Julia asked.
"Why what?" Claudia asked sarcastically.
"Why did you run away?" Julia said.
Claudia didn't answer for a while, which left Julia upset.
"Claude, I asked you something, and I expect you to answer me back," Julia said.
"Okay, you want to know. I'll tell you. You and Char and Bai never had time for me. It's always "go away Claudia" "Later Claudia" or " Not now Claudia." You never even talk to me anymore. You're never home and it seems like and you don't want me around so I figured I would leave, where someone might actually pay attention to me. Cause Jules, it's been like that for the past four years. The day mom and dad died it's been like that. The three of you always brushing me off, and finally I had enough of it so I just left. Figuring you wouldn't care anyway." Claudia was staring out of the airplane window.
Julia was shocked at what Claudia said. But, realized that she was right and that she had to do something about it right then and there.
"Look, Claude, I know we haven't been much of a family, but we're trying, and now that I told Social Services that I would look after you, if anything happened to Charlie. I realize I need too. I know we were wrong. And I am sorry for that. But Claude, I care about you. And, I promise that whenever you need me, I will be there for you." Julia said.
"Are you just saying that?" Claudia asked.
"No." Julia answered seriously.
Claudia just smiled and continued to stare out the window.
Soon after the plane landed back in San Francisco.
Julia stood into the aisle.
"Come on Claude, lets go home." Julia said and with that they got off the airplane and went home.
(At home when Julia and Claudia arrive into the house)
Charlie was upstairs sleeping and heard the door shut.
Charlie ran down the stairs, Bailey quickly after him.
"Claude!" Charlie ran and gave her a hug.
"Man, I am so happy to see you. I was so worried." Charlie said.
"Me too. Claude, are you okay?" Bailey said.
"Yeah, I'm fine." Claudia said.
"Look, Charlie, before you yell at me let me explain...I didn't mean to scare you or anything." Julia interupted her.
"Actually let me. Charlie Claudia told me why she ran away. It's not really her fault. We should've been paying more attention to her. So, if we would've then she wouldn't have ran away." Julia said.
Claudia was happy she stood up for her like that.
"Look, Claude, I am not going to yell at you. It's okay."
"Say that again Charlie." Claudia said. She thought Charlie was going to kill her when she got home.
Bailey, Charlie and Julia laughed.
"You heard what I said and I meant that." "We're really happy to have you back home Claude. All of us. Just don't ever run away again and from now on tell me where your going." Charlie said sternly.
"Okay I will. Thanks." Claudia smiled.
"Hey you know what we haven't done in a long time. How about if we all go to Salingers for a family dinner. With Owen of course and we can celebrate Claudia being back home. Besides it's what families do and because I am the manager we can have our usual booth." Bailey said. "So, what do ya guys say?" Bailey added.
"Great, I am up for that." Charlie said.
"Let's get our coats." Bailey said.
They went into the kitchen to get there coats. Julia stayed in the hall with Claudia.
"See I told you'd I'd always be there for you." Julia said.
"Thanks Jules. Lets go eat, I'm starving." Claudia said.
"Okay." Julia took Claudia's hand and Bailey and Charlie followed and they went down to Julia's car and all went to Salingers to make a reservation for a Party of Five.